Successful strategy depends on a thorough understanding of your organization’s current state. This understanding has to go beyond physical health (finances, size, locations, etc.) and include the organization’s sense of itself, its relationship to employees, and how it is experienced by the outside world. We believe the only way to reach this level of awareness is through what we call Inclusive Reality. Without it, executing any strategy is like deciding to modify a vehicle’s performance without knowing who will be driving or what terrain you will need to traverse.
Inclusive Reality, as I'm applying it to the context of strategy, means that all constituents who are vital to an organization's success inform the organizational perspective. The only way to gain this kind of reality, is by drawing insights from as many diverse perspectives as possible: hence inclusivity. The degree to which you include others insights will determine the degree to which people feel part of your strategy. The more people you have that feel part of the strategy, the greater your organization’s readiness to enroll in the hard work of implementing it.
The first step in establishing inclusive reality is to embody the concept. To help with this, below is a simple manifesto.
I will seek the truth.
If I don’t know, I won’t assume. I will seek the insights of those who have direct experience of what I need to understand.
I will share what I see.
What is real for me isn’t real for others. It is simply my unique experience. I will share what is real for me, and seek to understand what is real for others.
I will invite fearless contribution.
Everything needed for my organization's success is already here. I will relentlessly create conditions where my team can fully express themselves and their ideas.
The second step is to have your strategy team agree to adopt these same principles and to be accountable for living them. Most of which can be accomplished by encouraging people to ask questions of your strategy team, your organization, and those on the outside who are vital to your success.
Questions to ask about information you are given or assertions that are made:
How do we know that is true? Where did that insight come from? What information do we have to support it? Do we agree to hold it as true, or agree to seek direct input?
Questions to ask to encourage others to share what they see:
Describe to me what success looks like? Why does this strategy matter to you? What would the future of this organization be like if you had a say in it?
Questions to ask when you seek the contributions of others:
Who is in the best position to have insight on this issue? If these were the desired outcomes, how would you do this? What do you think we do that is most valuable?
What you are trying to accomplish is having your strategy team, and eventually your entire organization become reliable for following these principals. To help with that, you might want to check out these resources for forming new habits.